What is Photovoltaics? How Does it Work?

by | Apr 5, 2023 | Solar Energy | 0 comments

What is Photovoltaics How Does it Work


The use of sunlight as a resource other than electricity to meet the many needs of industry and homes is a real breakthrough. Photovoltaic is the method of converting sunlight from nature into electricity. Have you ever heard of the photoelectric effect? Well, this effect is used in this photovoltaics. Let’s look at the definition and how it works.

The Short Review of Photovoltaics

The photoelectric effect occurs in several materials with special characteristics. Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight directly into electricity. It means that only certain materials can be employed where they can give up electrons and absorb photons. Electric current is obtained from trying to capture free electrons. Humans use this electricity for many needs.

It is now widely used for convenience, and it is often referred to as PV. A simple PV is assembled from solar cells made of silicon. It turns out that electric current flows when the cell is exposed to sunlight. 

At that time, electricity could power home furnishings such as watches or calculators. Along with technological developments, it doesn’t stop at tools with small power, and they are massively used in industry or large-scale needs. This technology is an alternative to electricity from water, steam, wind, or nuclear.

The silicon material for making solar cells. It is part of a semiconductor device. There are various types of photovoltaic cell manufacturing devices. Most important is its ability to absorb sunlight and transform it with the photoelectric effect. Some popular ones include monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous silicon, or other thin film semiconductor materials. 

These silicon constituents come from different levels of silicon purity, which affect the level of efficiency. Of course, this also includes the selling price. For example, amorphous silicon costs less but also have lower efficiency.

The Differences Between Photovoltaic Panels Vs Solar Panels

Although these two types of technology are nothing new in generating heat or electricity, many people still make the wrong assumptions. Photovoltaic and solar panels are distinctly different because of their operating systems. So as not to misunderstand, you can understand the following explanation of the difference between the two. This difference does not mean that the two have nothing in common. Before looking at the differences, here are the similarities. 

The most obvious similarity is in the installation location. Both are installed on the same special structure. Usually, it will be easy to find above ground level or rather on the roofs of houses and buildings. The second similarity is that both resources use solar energy. These two big equations are what make people often confuse and think both are the same. Then what about the difference?

Although both use solar light as the main resource and then process it, the absorbed solar heat energy has a different purpose and system. If you notice, solar panels only use solar radiation to convert heat energy. This is completely different from the way photovoltaics works and the purpose. 

It absorbs heat energy from the sun in nature and converts it into electricity. This electricity later will help humans turn on electronic devices or another wholeness so that these two tools are equally important, without having to beat each other. Both have their respective benefits in human life and nature.

The Purchase and Operation Cost of Photovoltaics

Reading about the benefits of photovoltaics makes many people curious about the price. What must be understood is that investment costs are very relative and depend on several factors. How much you spend will depend on the type and number of cells used. The more, of course, the higher the cost as well as the total capacity of the photovoltaic system. No less important is the type of panel you use and the type of collector you will install.

If you are interested, you also need to consider maintenance costs, annual checks, or when you have certain breakdowns. Photovoltaics is a system that tends to be practical and maintenance-free. So, the operating costs will be cheaper than other power sources; investment costs may seem large at the beginning of the installation but will be worth it after a few years of use.